I’m running for re-election because I want to continue the important work we’re doing to move Chatham County forward.
My goal for my second term, should I be fortunate to serve, is to get to a place where we no longer feel like we’re catching up, but instead have established the ordinances that will protect our environment and rural character; the programs and funding streams that will provide for schools, parks, affordable housing and all the things that make a community vibrant; and the staff and facilities that a growing, modern, progressive county needs.
My three years as a Commissioner have allowed me to build solid relationships with my colleagues and county staff, with community leaders, and with residents across the county. I know the processes and procedures for getting things done. I’ve proven that I’m willing and able to do the work required to bring about real progress.
I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished for our schools and community college since my election to the Board. We approved construction of both a new elementary school and a new high school to address overcrowding. We funded a new teacher salary supplement program so we can recruit and retain good teachers in the face of state cuts. We funded a new Health Sciences Center for Central Carolina Community College, which will accommodate more students and programs in this growing career field. Perhaps most significantly, we funded a new program for our community college called Chatham Promise, which provides two years of tuition-free college for Chatham County high school graduates.
We’re seeing success and improved outcomes for our students. But there is work to do, and it takes committed leaders to do it. I’ve shown my strong commitment to improving education in Chatham County, and I want to continue to move us forward.
We do a good job of regularly reallocating county dollars to make up for state and federal cuts, but until all of our residents are able to meet their basic needs I'm certainly not comfortable saying they are sufficient. However, I know that Chatham County does a better job than most, and that's because of both the Board's commitment and the work of an outstanding staff. I'm especially optimistic and excited about the Community Engagement Coordinator position we funded in the County Manager's office. The Coordinator is working with our non-profit organizations and community groups throughout the county, helping them leverage and build on the county's efforts and helping the county leverage the great work they are doing. In addition, we have revamped our non-profit grant program, making it less burdensome for applicants and directly tying grants to the county's goals and objectives.
One of the most important things we must continue to do is better balance our tax base, so we are less reliant on residential property taxes. An added benefit to increased commercial activity is that residents will spend more of their dollars here in Chatham County and provide more sales tax revenue. And yet another is that residents will have more opportunities for employment here and will be less likely to travel out of the county for work. With careful and thoughtful leadership, we can better balance our tax base by encouraging commercial development in those areas where our land use plan provides for it.
It's also crucial that we encourage a better variety of housing types, allowing Chatham County to remain a diverse and vibrant community. Some of that can be done by the private sector, but the county must also play a role in assuring adequate affordable housing. We've recently established an Affordable Housing Trust Fund that is already helping fund projects throughout the county.
Environmental issues will continue to be a top concern for me as they are for so many of our residents. Watershed protection and water quality must be at the forefront of every conversation around growth and development. Conserving land for future generations will be critical as we grow. We’ve made enormous strides in the last 3 years. In 2017 we adopted the Chatham County Comprehensive Plan, which outlines a vision for Chatham County over the next 25 years and details the strategies that will help us get there. Plan Chatham calls for targeted growth and development in specific areas, and for maintaining the rural character of our county outside of those. We’ve begun the process of developing a Unified Development Ordinance (UDO) which will consolidate - and most importantly update - our ordinances into one document, and will provide clear rules for smarter growth that protects our environment and keeps Chatham County the unique blend of landscapes it is today.
Chatham County can and should be a model for other communities in demonstrating a public commitment to smarter growth and sustainable practices, and I’m excited about some promising initiatives being developed. We are receiving proposals for installation of solar panels on a number of county buildings and facilities, and will be establishing fuel efficiency standards and targets for the county's vehicle fleet.
My priorities are the God who created me, the wife and family He gave me, and a desire to serve them all and others put in my path.
Folks in rural Chatham feel left out of the process, like they “are not even part of the county”. Disenfranchised. They perceive leaders’ aims and goals as creating a Chapel Hill or Cary out of them.
66% of the county residents live in rural areas. Chatham is #2 in beef / cattle production and #12 in poultry / egg production in North Carolina. No other retail segment in the County is higher. The total contribution of agribusiness is 33% of the County income. They don’t think leadership understands the problems facing rural, and decisions on taxation, zoning, and development hurt them and their confidence in leadership. A second but similar priority is a more balanced representation of “worldviews”. Pittsboro and Chatham leadership has overwhelmingly been dominated by the political left – current commissioners are 80%. Yet that is nowhere near the county’s residents. Folks want to think they matter. I address these two concerns by running, winning, and keeping my word with these people feeling unrepresented. Other priorities are being responsible for the people’s money, and trying to make us more than just a bedroom community, both discussed in the other questions.
The “holy grail” is throw more money at education. It’s been the plea all my life and NO ONE dare oppose that. While it has continued, we fall further behind the world in outcome. We led the world until the last 30-40 years and on far less money. We must realize success of students in school and beyond should be the goal, and money alone will not guarantee that. Also, not all will go on to University education. As a community college professor, students tend to lack “Critical Thinking” and “Logical Thinking” (courses usually only offered post high school, which I’ve taken and taught and incorporate some into my bible courses). Students can regurgitate info, but seldom can filter and process info.
I support re-thinking curriculum and emphasis for public schools who are handicapped being tied to State and Federal – schools best succeed on the local. I support charter, home schooling, private schools, and vouchers. In 2016, $14,275 was spent per student. if just $7000 were given to parents for choice, that leaves the education over $7000 for a student no longer even there. Overcrowding is also relieved. (That extra could go elsewhere, maybe security. I also support trained, armed security.) As a 14 year college educator, I can say that, while many of my students from public schools also make top grades in my classes, the ones from home and private schooling are ALL always at the top.
America has not always had modern “safety nets”. The bible has always been clear about looking after those in need. But neighbors, families, churches looked after those in need, whether temporary or permanent, for centuries. Gradually government began replacing those. Our modern social services has been around for some time now, and with an ever expanding “net”. Jesus said in John 10:10; “A thief comes only to steal, to kill, to destroy. I have come that they may have life and have it more abundant.” Our abundant life was not only in eternity but now. And what is an abundant life for our citizens today? At times one does need to be given fish, especially if the need is temporary. But given fish all the time is a thief that steals independence, incentive, motivation, achievement, work ethic and dignity. Learning to fish gives the “abundant” life of self-determination, independence, drive, incentive, dignity and pride of accomplishment. I’ve appreciated the helping hands I sometimes got – I also look back fondly when I got back up on my own two feet and learned from the experience. Most want to raise our children to be independent and contributing members of society. They do not become that by getting everything they want. They must learn tools for succeeding, self-sacrifice and hard work. And have instilled in them a concern for their fellow man. But they must learn what that fellow man is REALLY needing; and are you helping for their benefit or your own.
Manage taxpayers’ dollars responsibly. Support existing businesses and attract new businesses through a competitive tax structure and reasonable regulations. Practically speaking, I’ve owned three small businesses while living in Chatham, one was retail; and I can testify that some cities and towns were way more business friendly than others. Taxes, rents, and regulations affected our decision on relocating. Regulations killed it for us in Chapel Hill, Raleigh and Cary. We didn’t even consider Pittsboro – rents were outrageous compared to “foot traffic” for our products. We chose Sanford for taxes, rents, and limited, reasonable regulations. I also believe in folks keeping more of their money. Money they will spend if they have it. Where they spend it, will in turn spend it, and pay taxes on that revenue increase.
Another huge boost to this county’s economy is using common sense with our dollars – avoiding waste. It’s easy to “spend other people’s money” – treat it like your own.
Biblically we are to be good stewards of the earth. But we are to do so responsibly.
Protecting resources also includes money you have been entrusted with. Recklessly spending taxpayer money on wasteful projects and unprovable solutions is irresponsible. I will oppose and push to reverse decisions to waste taxpayer money on solar panels on government (public) buildings, electric car chargers all over the county, and other controversial measures to “save the planet”.
Who’s NOT for clean water and clean air? Who wants dirty water and air? Yet our opponents constantly say we do because we don’t agree with their assumptions. Readers Digest once wrote: “An Environmentalist says there is trash in the stream. A Conservationist gets in the stream and cleans it up.” Liberalism’s position is of Environmental Extremism, putting forth controversial assumptions and utopia solutions, yet demanding real world taxpayer money. And never forget: “Government funded” is ‘taxpayer funded” – people create wealth, not government - they only collect it.